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The Narcissist’s Prayer Explained

The Narcissist's Prayer

This post explains the meaning behind the Narcissist’s Prayer.

The Narcissist’s Prayer (by Dayna Craig)

That didn’t happen.
And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
And if it is, that’s not my fault.
And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
And if I did, you deserved it.

The Narcissist’s Prayer features all hallmarks of narcissistic emotional abuse: Denial, invalidating, gaslighting, blameshifting, accountability issues, and guilt-tripping.

The narcissist refuses to face the consequences of their actions and would do everything they can to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Protect Yourself From a Narcissist

The Narcissist’s Prayer Explained

1. Denial – “That Didn’t Happen.”

The narcissist would disown whatever makes them look bad.

They have a deep need to feel special and flawless.

But they don’t just hide their imperfections and shortcomings from other people, they would also hide them from themselves.

The shame of making a mistake or having a flaw is too painful for them to bear.

Denial might also sound like:

“I never did that.”

“I never said that.”

“You’re remembering things wrong.”

“You’re imagining things.”

“You’re always twisting things.”

“You’re confusing me with someone else.”

“You know I would never do anything like that.”

Related: How To Emotionally Detach From A Narcissist?

2. Invalidating – “And If It Did, It Wasn’t That Bad”

The narcissist’s lack of empathy and self-centeredness makes it almost impossible for them to realize or acknowledge the pain they inflict on someone else.

The logic goes like this: If I feel good, then you have no reason to feel bad.

The narcissist will minimize your experience and invalidate your feelings.

Invalidation might also sound like:

“That was a long time ago.”

“You’re acting like a child.”

“You seem okay to me.”

“Other people have it worse.”

“That’s not important right now.”

“Oh poor you, get over it.”

Related: When A Narcissist Sees You Cry: Top 13 Reactions You May Be Familiar With

3. Gaslighting – “And If It Was, That’s Not A Big Deal”

The narcissist would try to manipulate your perception of reality and get you to question your own judgment.

Gaslighting might also sound like:

“You’re too sensitive.”

“You are overreacting.”

“Don’t be so dramatic!”

“You’re being irrational.”

“Why would you let something so small ruin our relationship?”

Related: Am I Being Gaslighted Quiz (& How To Recover From Gaslighting In 10 Steps)

4. Shifting The Blame – “And If It Is, That’s Not My Fault.”

The narcissist cannot face the consequences of their own actions.

They can always find something or someone to blame.

Simply acknowledging their role in what’s happening is too shameful to bear.

Shifting The Blame might also sound like:

“It’s not my fault that happened.”

“You made me do it”

“I haven’t taken my meds”

“I hadn’t had my coffee.”

5. Accountability Issues – “And If It Was, I Didn’t Mean It”

Narcissists may apologize, but they never mean it.

They give a false apology to simply appease you or to avoid taking responsibility for their own behavior.

But they never reflect on the harm they inflicted, feel remorse, or work toward a real change.

Accountability issues might also sound like:

“Geez, I was just joking.”

“This is how I’ve always done things.”

“I didn’t mean it like that, obviously.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“I’m sorry if you think I did something wrong.”

“I was just trying to help.”

“I don’t know why I do these things.”

Related: 21 Stages of a Narcissist Relationship (+FREE Breakup Recovery Worksheets)

6. Guilt-Tripping – “And If I Did, You Deserved It.”

The narcissist would always find something to accuse you of and make you feel like you deserved what they did to you.

For instance, if they cheat on you, they may claim that they did it because you didn’t lose enough weight to look attractive to them.

The arguments they would use to persuade you that something is your fault are often illogical but they choose to believe them and deliver them with such convincing fanfare that you find yourself filled with feelings of guilt.

Guilt-tripping might also sound like:

“You brought this onto yourself”

“If you did/didn’t… I wouldn’t have done it.”

“If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

“You need help.”

“If only you had…”

Related: 8 Stages Of Healing After Narcissistic Abuse (+FREE Breakup Recovery Worksheets)

FREE Toxic Relationship Worksheets

Who Is The Narcissist?

In a nutshell, narcissists are people who lack empathy.

Because of their lack of empathy, they’re unlikely to self-reflect or take responsibility for their own action and they’re unlikely to consider other people’s feelings.

Narcissists are also people who display a pervasive pattern of grandiosity and an insatiable need for attention and admiration from others.

All psychologists agree that narcissism begins in childhood.

There are three main factors that are responsible for narcissism: genetics, biological and social. In most cases, it is an intertwining of all three.

Related: 21 Stages of a Narcissist Relationship (+FREE Breakup Recovery Worksheets)

Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD

A narcissist isn’t necessarily a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD.

Narcissism is a range or spectrum of severity.

A bit too much in excess, narcissism can be diagnosed as a Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR), five (or more) of the following criteria should be present for an NPD diagnosis:

“1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).

4. Requires excessive admiration.

5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).

6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).

7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”

Note: Only a licensed professional in the field of mental health can make a diagnosis of any personality disorder, including NPD.

Related: Top 5 Reasons Why Narcissists Target Empaths – & How to Starve The Narcissist of Supply

Emotional Abuse Recovery Worksheets
journaling prompts - The Narcissist’s Prayer Explained (+FREE Toxic Relationship Worksheets)


  • Portions of this article were adapted from the book Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR), © 2021 by the American Psychiatric Association. All rights reserved.